(part three of three)
To commemorate Women’s History Month, we’ve been talking with women who work in the field of Civil War public history. Today, we wrap up our series by wrapping up our conversation with Elizabeth Heffernan, the new executive director of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. Yesterday, Elizabeth shared the story of how she ended up with CVBT, including a stint with the Virginia HistoryMobile.
Chris Mackowski: The HistoryMobile is obviously a great educational tool, and I know education is an important component of CVBT’s job. Why is that so important?
Elizabeth Heffernan: I think to be passionate about a cause, you would first need to understand it. One of CVBT’s goals in education is to instill the desire for all ages to become involved. For prosperity of our nation, we are obligated to educate our children about their history so that it will continue to live on and hopefully we won’t make the same mistakes in the future.
CM: What’s next on the horizon for you at CVBT?
EH: We are currently getting ready for our Annual Meeting coming up April 20-22, which features some fabulous tours lead by well-known historians Eric Wittenberg, Robert E. L. Krick, and Scott Walker; a wonderful annual meeting dinner and presentation about Civil War photography in 3D by Bob Zeller; and ending with a Sunday brunch and tour at Stevenson Ridge on the Spotsylvania Battlefield, which is being led by YOU, Chris, which is the perfect way to wrap up a wonderful weekend!
The tickets are sold ala carte and are still available, so anyone interested can go to our website.
What else… I intend to concentrate my efforts on establishing strong working relationships with the many people who support our mission; I plan to pour myself into learning more about grant writing and land acquisition; and I will strive to accomplish positive growth for CVBT in an attempt to prove my worthiness of this great honor of being selected as their new executive director!
CM: You also just announced a new opportunity at Spotsylvania last week. Can you tell me about that?
EH: Yes! It has been an exciting first few months on the job. We just closed on the “Fifth Corps Brock Road Tract” on March 8. This property consists of three parcels right on Brock Road that back up to the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield. It is a little more than 14 acres and has many significant Civil War stories associated with it, but my favorite one is about Major General John Sedgwick when he famously scolded his soldiers that were ducking bullets whizzing by their heads: “What! What! Men dodging this way for single bullets.” “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”—and as the words came out of his mouth, he was fatally wounded and fell into the arms of one of his ducking soldiers!
I love CW stories that reveal soldier’s personalities. It makes them more relatable.
Check out our website for more information about this property.
CM: I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to get out and visit any of CVBT’s properties since it’s been winter, but do you have a favorite yet? Or something that’s particularly caught your eye or interest?
EH: Well, that’s an easy question, the Fifth Corps Brock Road Tract will always be incredibly special to me as it was “my first”! I will always remember throwing on some boots and a hat to go out there with our lands manager, Mike Greenfield, and walk every inch of the 14 acres looking for earthworks, NPS monuments, and property boundary lines. Then it was also very interesting to be part of the process in purchasing the land. There were so many people involved, including our board of directors, the surveyor, the appraiser, the real estate agent, the bank, the attorney and the title company.
Oh, and the best part: I can’t tell you what a rush it was to write a check of that size representing the hundreds of people who donated those funds all for the specific purpose of preserving history.
CM: What have I not asked you that I should have?
EH: Chris, thank you for this opportunity. I look forward to working with Emerging Civil War and welcome any of your members to visit our office.